Dec 11 - Holidays in Hand

I love parties. Almost any party really. Holiday parties are always fun. People get into the festive spirit and have a great time. In past holiday seasons I have been to wrapping parties, cookie parties, white elephant parties, 'journey to bethlehem' parties, progressive dinners, and open houses. They were each fun and special in their own ways.
Every year our church has a Christmas party. I am the pianist, and have been very busy this season. I love to hear the caroling, and the children singing.


Dec 10 - Holidays in Hand

One of my favorite sights to see is all the Christmas lights during the holidays. When I was growing up we lived near an area famous for their lights. We would walk around the neighborhood since the line of cars was miles long. It was so much fun to see everyones yards decked out with decorations and lights.
Now that I have moved away from there, I still try to take my kids to places with lots of lights. I now live near a place that hosts a "Lights of Christmas" village. An entire summer camp area is decorated. And there are horse rides and train rides, Santa, and 'Bruce the talking spruce' christmas tree.


Dec 9 - Holidays in Hand

I love to read. I have been reading since I was 4 years old, and was read to long before that. I like to read holiday stories to my kids. My mother has a Christmas-story-a-day notebook full of wonderful tales. I like to borrow it and read some to my kids. "The Forgotten Carols" is one of my favorite stories. I like to read it and play or listen to music that goes along with it.
On Christmas eve we also like to read the Christmas story as found in Luke chapter 2 of the Bible. When I was little my brothers and I would act it out as well.


Dec 8 - Holidays in Hand

The first Christmas after I got married, my parents gave us an advent calendar. Not a hanging one, but a whole wooden box filled with little numbered drawers to put candy and things into. It has our last name on the front along with a Santa.
I use it every year and put in little treats for the kids. They love to open up the doors and drawers to find the little surprises. It's a great way for them to count down the days until Christmas.


Dec 7 - Holidays in Hand

Food, like it or not, is a big part of the holidays. In my family, there are lots of special recipes that we make only at this time of year. A few years ago I made a recipe scrapbook of all our holiday baked goods. One for my mom, one for my sister-in-law, and one for me. It had many cookies, plus peanut brittle, nuts and bolts, and the oven egg omlete that we have every christmas morning.
We always gather with my mom's family for a big Christmas eve dinner. When I was younger we would also do Christmas morning with them. Then for the afternoon and Christmas day dinner, we would go to my father's family. Now that we live further away from the extended family, we just do Christmas here with my family. Someday we hope to go to Fiji to be with my husbands family for Christmas.
I love getting together with family and friends, and sharing a meal together. Growing up it was always a great time to just chat and enjoy each others company. I hope to continue these traditions of togetherness for years to come.


Dec 6 - Holidays in Hand

There are many holiday symbols that have meaning to me. One of my favorite decorations is a little white navtivity set I made a few years ago when I first got married. I love nativity sets. Reminding me of the 'reason for the season'. It's importnant to me to keep Christ in Christmas. This year, we live in a small house, and there are 4 little kids running around it. So, I haven't put it out, but I did put out a different nativity set my mother got for me. It sits just out of reach too.


Dec 5 - Holidays in Hand

I love Christmas music. I always sing in my church choir (well, I’m playing the piano this year). And I love to hear the Christmas radio station when I’m in the car. I would be hard pressed to find a favorite. Last year my DH deployed to Iraq just a few days before Christmas. Songs about being lonely at Christmas made me cry and really touched me. I have always liked “I heard the bells on Christmas day”. It is a nice reminder that God still loves us and that there can be peace and good will. As far as pop music goes, I like the Beach Boys song “Little Saint Nick”. I learned all the words by the time I was in 3rd grade. My children’s favorite, for now anyway, is “Jingle Bells”.


Finnish Star

We got an artifical Christmas tree this year. And the nice light up star I have is just too heavy for our little tree. So, the kids and I decided to make our own new star for the top. I used a two-sided piece of scrapbook paper. One side is red with white snowflakes, and the other side is solid green. I glued it together using gluedots. I used THESE DIRECTIONS. And it turned out great, if I do say so myself.


Another handmade gift this year: leggings. Well, they are partly handmade. I took some adult knee-high socks, and turned them into leggings for my daughter. She does ballet, and I'm sure her legs get cold, especially during the winter. So, I made her 2 pairs.
To make them I cut the socks off just above the heel. Then cut again just after the heel, and again right before the toe. I used the foot section as a lower cuff. I folded it in half, wrong sides together, and sewed it to the cut edge of the big sock part. I hope that makes sense! Sorry I didn't take pictures of the process.

Eyeglass Chain

One of my handmade Christmas gifts this year is an eyeglass chain. I have no problem putting it up on my blog, because the recipient doesn't own a computer, so won't know about it. SHH! Don't tell her!

Dec 4 - Holidays in Hand

I have a couple of holiday decorations that I inherited. One is a crocheted boot that my great grandmother made. My grandfather had it in his home for years, and then it got passed down to me (the first grandchild to get married and have kids). I also have a hanging jingle bell thing from my mother. It doesn’t have any particular value, but I remember it being on our front door as a child, and my mother was getting rid of it, so I took it. Now it hangs on my front door.
My mother loves Christmas. She plays Christmas music all year around in her car. All year she watches Christmas movies while ironing. But, we don’t let her decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. So, this has become the tradition. After we do any black Friday shopping, we go to my parent’s house and decorate. She has about 16 giant plastic totes full of decorations and lights and things. I only have 2 totes, but I figure that someday I will probably have just as many, since I love the holidays too.


Dec 3 - Holidays in Hand

During the holidays there is a lot of joy, happiness and good cheer going around. Finding the perfect gift for someone. Caroling with friends. Doing secret santa. There are tons of things you can do to spread joy. Spending time with family and friends always brings me joy. And around the holidays we usually get to spend extra time with those we love. As my children get older, I try to include them more in the festivities. This, of course, brings them joy. They love to help put out decorations, bake cookies, and hang ornaments on the tree (or take them off, as my 1 year old does). I hope my holidays can always be filled with joy. And I wish everyone else joy in the season too.


Dec 2 - Holidays in Hand

Still without photoshop :(

Reading Welcome Home for the Holidays helps to put things into perspective. As the holiday season gets into swing I can't help but think of the chores to be done, crafts to be finished, and recipes to be made. But having a clean, well-decorated home full of yumy foods isn't what makes a house inviting. It's the love and warmth that you put into it. The kids probably won't remember how clean (or not clean) the house was, but they will remember the magic of the season. I hope to not get bogged down in the details and create a loving home that family and friends would feel welcome to visit.

Remember cooking with an older relative...
I have always loved baking with my grandma. I would help stir in chocolaate chips, measure flours, or best of all, taste test. We also made gingerbread houses with her every year (and got to eat the extra candy). I learned to make stuffing at her house, and how to get the gravy 'just so'.
There are certain family recipes that are made every year. A few years ago I made special small recipe scrapbooks for me, my mom, and my sister-in-law with all the family Christmas recipes. I think it's wonderful that we have these traditions.


Dec 1 - Holidays in Hand

My main computer is on the fritz (again!) and I can't make any layouts yet. But, I can still do the journaling for the Jessica Sprague Holidays in Hand project.

My thoughts about my family's holiday values...
Most of my values are religion based. As a Christian, I celebrate the birth of Jesus this time of year. The idea of love and family is very important to me. My parents taught me about the 'true meaning of Christmas' from a very early age, and I try to teach my children the same thing. While it's fun to get gifts, and to give them, I try not to focus on presents but on the spirit of the season. Hopefully my children are learning these things too, and some day will pass along these values to their children as well.

My earliest holiday memory...
I remember lots of things having to do with Christmas. If you know my mother, you know that she plays Christmas music all year around. It is by far her favorite time of year. She decorates like crazy. I remember always getting a special ornament each year from her or my grandparents. There are special family recipes that we always make. We have done nativity plays at my grandparents home. One year my uncle even dressed up as Santa to give us presents on Christmas Eve. I don't know which memory is the earliest, but they are always happy.